by Pastor Leo Launio
How do you define beauty? What makes someone beautiful?
We often hear the phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” For the Kayan tribe on the border of Burma and Thailand, wearing as many brass rings around their necks is the ultimate sign of female elegance and beauty.
In Brazil, in addition to having a beautiful face, beauty for many women is to have a skinny figure. The average weight of a Brazilian woman is 110-125 pounds. Brazil now leads the world as the biggest consumer of diet pills.
Regardless of age, gender, financial status, educational achievement, and cultural background, everyone desires to be beautiful. It feels good when someone tells us, “You look good”, “You look gorgeous”, “You are so cute or handsome.”
We are attracted to beautiful people. Teenagers and adults alike idolize good-looking actors, singers, athletes, and other famous personalities.
We spend a lot of time and a lot of money trying to look beautiful. Based on current beauty trends, NEWSWEEK magazine estimates that by the time a 10-year-old turns 50, she’ll have spent nearly $300,000 on just her hair and face.
According to reports, the global beauty market is projected to reach an $800-billion valuation by 2023 from its $500-billion valuation in 2018. This remarkable increase is triggered by our society’s obsession with physical beauty.
Of course, we recognize that physical beauty is a wonderful asset and a precious gift. But is it possible that we can be too skewed and one-sided in our understanding of beauty? Awed by Hollywood celebrities, is it possible that we can neglect and overlook the ultimate definition of what beauty is? I think we can learn the real meaning of beauty from this story.
A well-known beauty product company asked the people in a large city to send pictures along with a brief description of the most beautiful women they knew. Within a few weeks, thousands of letters were delivered to the company.
One letter got the attention of the company’s president. The letter was written by a young boy who was obviously from a broken home, living in a run-down neighborhood. With spelling corrections, an excerpt from his letter read: “A beautiful woman lives down the street from me. I visit her every day. She makes me feel like the most important kid in the world. We play checkers and she listens to my problems. She understands me, and when I leave she yells out the door that she’s proud of me.”
The boy ended his letter saying, “This picture shows you that she is the most beautiful woman. I hope I have a wife as pretty as her.”
Intrigued by the letter, the company’s president took out of the envelope a picture of the woman the boy had described – a smiling, toothless woman, well-advanced in years, sitting in a wheelchair. Sparse gray hair was pulled back in a bun, and wrinkles that formed deep furrows on her face.
This wasn’t the kind of woman the president of the beauty product company was looking for. But the boy could see in this aging woman a beauty that others couldn’t see. He looked beyond what could be seen on the outside and see what this person was really like on the inside.
What makes someone beautiful? An elderly lady gave the secret of her beautiful complexion, saying, “I use truth for my lips; for my voice, prayer; for my eyes, compassion; for my hands, charity; for my figure, uprightness; and for my heart, love.”
Peter wrote, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornments, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
And this, my friends, what true beauty is.